In 2006, I was diagnosed with clinical depression. I was prescribed medication. I saw a therapist. I got better.
Except there is no “getting better” when it comes to depression. It’s something you learn to live with. The most comparable thing I’ve come across is diabetes. With diabetes, your pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin, so you cannot properly process sugar. With depression, your brain doesn’t produce enough serotonin, so you can’t properly process happy things.
Okay, so it’s kind of a shitty comparison. But it works.
It’s not something that’s going to heal. It’s something that you learn to work with. Some days are going to be better than others. On the good days, you try and enjoy life. On the bad days, you push yourself out of bed because tomorrow is going to get better.
High school was not fun for me at the time. Now, I look back with a lot of fond memories, but regretful ones. I probably would have had a better experience if I didn’t have this Thing hanging over me.
I was all too well aware of its presence. I just chose not to deal with it–or when I did, it was not in the healthiest of ways. But I chalked it up to “teenaged angst” and sat in a corner, writing shitty poems about dying (all the while thinking I was the next Emily Dickinson because I was just so deep) and wearing all black like some weird goth beatnik.
I got to college, and it got worse, because suddenly, everything I knew was gone and I was in this weird place that I didn’t want to be in. Again, I pushed it away. I didn’t deal with it. I blamed it on new surroundings and some version of culture shock.
Then I flunked out.
I stopped going to classes. It wasn’t that I wouldn’t get out of bed, it was that I couldn’t. Every day, it was getting more and more physically impossible for me to leave my little cocoon of sadness, where I could hate myself in peace. I didn’t talk to anyone. I didn’t eat. I slept around 16 hours a day, and I was disappointed every single time I woke up.
It was when I was seriously considering Googling “suicide methods” that I figured enough was enough.
So I Googled “depression” instead.
I read the symptoms on three different websites. Each website had symptoms that described me perfectly: excessive sleeping, no appetite, loss of interest, feelings of sadness. I stared at the screen and cried. I had an answer. And for the first time in years, I had hope.
I went downstairs and found my mom watching TV. And I was clueless as to how to say something.
“What’s up?” Her standard greeting.
“I think I’m depressed.” There. Done. Out in the open. Now the questions and the ‘oh God I’m a terrible mother’ crying and maybe I should have just gone through with the suicide, that would have been easier–
“Okay.” She hit the mute button. “That explains a lot, actually.”
Oh. Okay. This is… good. Right? Good? “Yeah.”
“I’ll look up some therapists, and we can go together. If you want.”
It’s good. “Yeah. Definitely.”
I went back upstairs and fell asleep.
I have no idea what my mother did after that, besides making me a therapy appointment. Maybe I did make her feel like a terrible mother–that certainly wasn’t my intenton, and her reaction proves that she isn’t. But, if I’m honest, I don’t want to know. Because we aren’t those people anymore. I’m happier. She’s happier. I do things now. I have interests that I’m passionate about. I’m even going back to school, with every intention of showing up to class this time.
Depression, in a word, sucks. It sucks your interests, your joy, your relationships, all into this black pit of nothing, and then in sucks you in. But you don’t have to let it. You can talk to someone. There are helplines. Utilize your resources. Take back your life. It’s the only one you get.